There is so much amazing food to be eaten in London, and not all of it comes served on a china plate by a waiter in a white apron. From street food to supper clubs to pop-up restaurants, anyone can create and share tasty, interesting food without the need to be lumbered with permanent premises. Lucky Chip has been serving up the best burgers in London for over two years now without ever having a sign above a door. And Big Apple Hot Dogs, once a street food van, are now being served in Mishkins. It is one of the aspects of the London food scene that I always wanted to explore with this blog, not least because it is how you can eat and drink very well without ever feeling sick at the sight of a bill at the end of it.
Eat Scandi is a supper (or more aptly, brunch) club run by Signe Johnson who wrote Scandilious and Scandilious Baking. It is held at her friend, and serial supper club hostess, Hannah’s lovely flat in Holloway. The tickets were £35 a head, and I invited my very gay friend S along (I am getting annoyed at writing “my friend” all the time so thought I would try initials. XOXO Gossip Girl). After being warmly greeted by Hannah we took our seats in the dinning room, along with 20 or so other guests. We were swiftly served a glass of warming Christmas glogg with fresh blueberries bobbing on the surface. S is currently not drinking alcohol (he does naughty things when he does and is training to run a marathon) so I drank both of ours. Win. We then turned our attention to the other guests on our table (there were two big communal tables). It was a mix of people there by themselves and in twos and threes. Without the faff of looking at menus and deciding what to eat it was very conducive to chatter. One guy was wearing a rather lovely Scandi knit. At first I thought he was just getting into the spirit, but later found out he runs a blog about them (here).
The basic premise of a supper club is that you sit in someone’s house and they bring you a continual stream of food until you can’t fit any more in. Which is exactly what happened. First up was a little shot of Christmas smoothie. As Signe explained it was designed to give us a few vitamins before The Salmon (capital letters required). Made with clementines, bananas, ginger, spices and almond milk it was warming, soothing, and every blustery morning since I have thought how nice it would be to drink. The Salmon was sashimi grade, very meaty and fresh, and lightly cured. It was served with large disks of rye cracker and home-made pickled cucumbers (very simply done with sugar and white wine vinegar). While we were still piling up the crackers we were also served a hefty chunk of roasted celeriac, and then a delicious beetroot and pearl barley salad with dill and a sweet raspberry vinegar dressing. We were also given a shot of Akvavit each. I had not tried this before but loved the potent, caraway flavoured liquor. Once that had been cleared away, tiny espresso cups of swede soup with a shaving of brown cheese on top were passed around. Fudgy in texture and oddly sweet, you either love it or hate it. I love it, and so does my mum. She always had some in her fridge, but given that she lives in deepest darkest North Norfolk I have no idea how she gets hold of it.
Then the sweet stuff started to arrive, beginning with Norwegian rice pudding drizzled with cherry syrup. In Norway the cold cooked rice is stirred through whipped cream (perhaps they need the extra fat to keep them warm). It was delicious. The coffee was a pale roast from Square Mile (Kagumoini Peaberry) and was very very smooth. There was also a plate of traditional Christmas cinnamon loaf, and peppakakor biscuits. My family used to make these thin, crisp, spicy biscuits about this time every year when I was growing up, and I absolutely adore them.
As it was my first supper club experience I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I really really loved it. It was very relaxing and a good way to meet new people. The food was simple, elegant and very flavoursome. I chatted to Signe and Hannah afterwards about why they host supper clubs, and Hannah said she loves how she learns so much about other cuisines and cultures through them. There aren’t really any great Scandinavian restaurants in London (although there are a couple of good cafes – a review of one is coming up soon!) which is why, if you want to try authentic cooking from the area, you need to look beyond traditional restaurants. Thankfully, that is something London knows how to do.